Research Projects

Anxiety Projects

The Relationship between Social Anxiety and Intergroup Anxiety

This study will examine Rapee and Heimberg's social anxiety disorder (SAD) theoretical model to incorporate cultural considerations. The objective of the study is to look at the processes that moderate intergroup anxiety for interactions between African Americans and non-Hispanic Caucasian Americans respectively.  Specifically, we will look at the influence of social anxiety symptoms and stereotype confirmation concerns for both groups as well as perceived discrimination for African Americans, and fear of appearing prejudice for non-Hispanic Caucasians on intergroup anxiety.  We will finally look at fear of evaluation and state anxiety as a result of this intergroup anxiety in a conversation setting.

Social Anxiety and Social Media

There is recent evidence that social media usage is associated with elevated social anxiety and that such usage is problematic among socially anxious individuals. This study seeks to evaluate the level of anxiety and avoidance behavior generated from face-to-face interactions compared to that generated by interactions via social media.

The Examination of Cognitive Models of Social Anxiety Disorder

This study examines the unique predictors of a socially anxious response in a social anxiety challenge, using the cognitive models of social anxiety and previous research as reference. The fundamental question this study hopes to elucidate is what is contributing to changes that occur in anxiety ratings from baseline to being informed of a speech task. It also focuses on individuals’ somatic and cognitive responses in social situations, concerns pertaining to both positive and negative evaluation by others, individuals’ perceptions of self as compared to others, self-monitoring, and safety behaviors.

Culture and Anxiety

Internalized Racism and Gendered Colorism Among African Americans: A Study of Perceived Discrimination, Intra-Group Bias, and Psychological Well-Being

Hidden within the commonly discussed notion of racism is discrimination based on skin color, also known as colorism. Colorism is a form of prejudice in which people are treated differently based on societal meanings attached to skin color. The hierarchy used in colorism deems light complexion and Eurocentric features as more valuable and attractive than dark complexion and Afrocentric features. These more favorable features allow lighter-skinned people of color to enjoy considerable “privileges” that are much harder to attain for those with darker skin. While the extant literature is beginning to touch the surface of colorism, very little studies have explored the psychological effects of colorism, specifically outside the scope of racism. That is, colorism research is often studied by looking at minority skin tone discrimination at the hands of European Americans, but not other ethnic minorities. The current research studies intra-group colorism among African Americans to better understand the psychological consequences of these bias attitudes within a single ethnic demographic. 

Expanding a Cultural Resilience Model to Understand Predictors of Quality of Life Outcomes for Black Women 


This study will develop a model to examine the predictive ability of certain risk factors, cultural assets, and traditional assets on quality of life outcomes in Black American women. Measured risk factors include racism, sexism, and gendered racial microaggressions; cultural assets will include spiritual coping, collective coping, and ritual-based coping; and traditional assets of resilience will include social support, family adaptability, family cohesion, and self-efficacy. The model will determine how these various factors impact quality of life outcomes in a varied, unspecified sample. 
 

Experiences of Racial Discrimination and Emotion Dynamics Among African Americans and Asian Americans

This study elucidates the experiences of racial discrimination among African Americans and Asian Americans. Specifically, it investigates the everyday patterns and fluctuations of negative and positive emotions as they unfold over time in reaction to explicit behavior of humiliation (e.g., racial slurs) and subtle, often unconscious, indignities toward people of color termed “microaggression” (e.g., assumed criminality). It aims to contribute to the current debate about the scientific status of the broader microaggression research program, which has recently been called into questions by scholars. In particular, they have pointed to a neglect in research to attend to the influence of personality factors and the validity of the concept of microaggression. With a few exceptions, most studies in this area have deployed a cross-sectional approach to examine individual differences to determine the outcomes of microaggression. Hence, this study attempts to address these gaps by examining if microaggression could lead to maladaptive patterns of emotion dynamics over time, and the contribution of these states toward psychological distress over and beyond the personality traits of negative emotionality and perceived victimization.

 

Racial Microaggressions and Power Differences 

This study explores racial microaggressions under circumstances where there are differences in power. Specifically, it aims to understand how microaggressions perpetuated by authority figures are perceived by targets in comparison to those perpetuated by peers. Of particular interest is how these differences in power may influence targets responses, or lack thereof, to microaggressive behavior. Implications for psychological wellbeing will be evaluated. 
 

Racial Differences in Trichotillomania

This project examines race as a predictor of perceived distress and impairment in black and white female undergraduate students who pull their body hair unrelated to grooming, or Trichotillomania. Prevalence rates of Trichotillomania are equivalent in both African American and Caucasian American samples, but levels of clinical distress and impairment experienced by both groups significantly differ. More specifically, African Americans do not consistently report experiencing impairment or distress due to pulling, unlike their Caucasian American counterparts. This project assesses the mediating and moderating effects of ethnic identity and resilience.

Colorism in the Perception of Personal Attributes

The concept of colorism refers to the discrimination one experiences or perceives as a result of their skin color. While there is evidence that colorism is still an issue for African Americans, there are several issues that have remained unaddressed. This project examines the perception of skin color in relationship to social and psychological outcomes, whether colorism is associated with psychological wellbeing (e.g., positive and negative affect, generic wellbeing, depression), and whether specific aspects of colorism are more or less salient than others. The possible influence of social desirability will be addressed by utilizing an implicit measure of color preference. The study also examines ethnic identity as a potential moderator to the expected results. 

Implicit Association Task and Perception of Homosexuality: Differences Between African American and Non-Hispanic Caucasian Homosexual Males

Minority Stress Theory (MST) is one of the leading theories addressing the impact of racial, sexual and gender minorities on psychological and physical health. This theory postulates that gender minority stress represents a specific psychological stress derived from being a racial and sexual minority and experiencing negative life events. While there is evidence that homosexuality and racial ethnicity represent stressors associated with psychological and physical distress, there have been few attempts to address the interaction between the two. In this study we extend the extant literature by examining the association between among ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We specifically evaluate the perception of homosexual males by homosexual males through use of an Implicit Association Task (IAT). We examine whether African American homosexual men would exhibit higher internalized homophobia and perceived racial and sexual stigma, producing higher levels of psychological distress than non-Hispanic Caucasian homosexual men. We test for the hypothesis that African American males could have a less positive perception of homosexual males as measured by the IAT regardless of the ethnicity of the image compared to non-Hispanic Caucasian males.